The Loyola women’s soccer team (13-4-1, 7-0) defeated No. 4 seed Drake University in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament semifinal in Springfield, Missouri Nov. 8.
The Ramblers will go on to play their second consecutive championship game when they face Illinois State University Nov. 10. Illinois State, the No. 2 seed, won 4-3 over Missouri State University Nov. 6 to advance to the final.
Loyola went into the match on a 10-game win streak and was undefeated in conference play. Drake finished the regular season in fourth place and defeated Valparaiso University 1-0 Nov. 4 to advance to the semifinal.
Loyola tallied 13 shots during the match compared to Drake’s two. Drake junior goalkeeper Kelsie Stone made five saves while Loyola’s first-year goalkeeper Grace Droessler only had to make one. Senior midfielder Sienna Cruz led the Ramblers with five shots.
The first half started with Loyola taking two early shots on goal from Cruz and junior midfielder Lindsey Hardiman. In the 16th minute, Cruz scored her third goal of the season after a corner kick from senior midfielder Aleksa Tataryn. The rest of the half went by with four more shots from the Ramblers and only one from Drake.
Drake picked up the pace in the second half but still couldn’t put up an equalizer. The Ramblers were unable to score off their three corner kicks in the second half, and the game ended 1-0 with Cruz’s goal as the game winner.
— Missouri Valley Conference (@MVCsports) November 9, 2019
Cruz said in an interview on the MVC’s Twitter page that going into her second consecutive conference championship is a “big deal” after coming from a losing season her first year. During her first year on the roster in 2016, the team went 5-11-3 and finished sixth in the MVC.
“We’ve made huge strides,” Cruz said. “The team this year is great, we’re focused and we’re ready for the final on Sunday.”
If the Ramblers win the championship game Nov. 10, they will be back-to-back champions in not only the regular season, but the tournament as well.
Loyola is set to take on Illinois State in the MVC championship game Nov. 10 in Springfield. Kick-off is scheduled for 1 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on ESPN+.